Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys...

Not really, but I have always had a soft spot for Josey Wales and Barbarosa.

This past week, Little Ball and Ice Berg enjoyed a road trip to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. They rode as much as possible, but not quite as much as they'd have liked. Apparently they joined one of the big road groups, and participated in the destruction of said group. I never got the whole story, but it seems that ride dwindled down to Berg, Ball, and a couple on a tandem. It seems these tandem pilots were national champs. When Little Ball recounts this story, he mentions the captain's name is Gunnar. That set the gears a' turning. I asked if this particular tandem pilot had little round glasses. He hesitantly tells me yes, but you can tell he's wondering how the hell I may have this little piece of info. After a quick Google image search, it's confirmed that the boys were riding with none other than Gunnar Shogren.

Now Gunnar may not be the most obvious icon of early 90's mountain bike racing, but he was in the show. He wrote a column for Dirt Rag called, Wazzupwiddat? While he may not have been a top of the podium, media darling, he was making his living racing bikes, and I always looked forward to reading of his cross country travels in his old van, telling the tales of a fiendracer.

I faded away from Dirt Rag, and big name racing in general, and Gunnar sort of slipped off my radar. A couple of years ago, Silk talked me into joining him in Dahlonega for the Fools Gold 100. Hanging out in the N. GA mountains, I stumble across a blast from the past. It seems that Gunnar has not dried up and blown away, but is still frequenting the bike race scene. He's taken to longer distances, doing the 100 mile races instead of the 2 hour suffer-fests of the past. The dude has to be close to 50, by now. The next day we're watching the race from our bikes, riding parts of the course. Gunnar comes by in the top 5-6 of the 100 mile class, and he's riding a singlespeed!

That may not qualify for hero status on the level of say, NYFD or NYPD, but that's still impressive in my book. I hope I have that kind of spring in my step, when I hit 50.